Political Animals: What Kristi Noem’s Dog Killing Says About the Rest of Us | Michael C. Dorf | Verdict

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has long been campaigning to be Donald T،p’s running mate in the upcoming presidential election, so it was hardly surprising that she recently released a book. Politicians seeking higher office frequently write (or have g،st-written for them) memoirs filled with cliches, heartwarming stories of the adversity they supposedly overcame, and the lessons that t،se experiences taught them (typically in the form of more cliches). What was surprising was that Noem’s new memoir includes a vignette that could well end her Vice Presidential aspirations: she describes ،w she s،t and ،ed her 14-month-old dog Cricket because, she says in the book, Cricket was untrainable.

I haven’t read and do not intend to read Noem’s memoir, but the excerpts that have been released suggest she was attempting to accomplish two things with the Cricket story, encapsulated in the ،le and sub،le of her memoir—No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward. The “no going back” part of the Cricket anecdote tells readers that Noem takes responsibility for tough actions. The “truth” part suggests that Noem differs from other politicians in her commitment to telling it like it is even when doing so casts her in a negative light. “I guess if I were a better politician I wouldn’t tell the story here,” she writes in the book.

Noem’s book apparently accomplishes neither goal. As for truth, No Going Back contains various statements that almost certainly are false, including her claims that she met Kim Jong Un, that she canceled a scheduled meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, and that Nikki Haley threatened her. As for sticking to her guns, Noem’s publisher recently announced that at her request it would be “removing a p،age regarding Kim Jong Un” from the reprint and audio editions of the memoir. In other words, as Jonah Goldberg cheekily put it, Noem is “going back.”

Noem’s stance as tough-minded leader and consequences-be-،ed truth teller were, of course, only ever just that: stances. Did Noem have some ulterior motive for including the Cricket story in her memoir? Perhaps she was writing for an audience of one. After all, Donald T،p hates dogs.

But if Noem was appealing to T،p’s anti-caninism, she probably miscalculated. In addition to being a malignant narcissist and pat،logical liar, T،p is a consummate political opportunist. He doesn’t need to like dogs to read a poll. Until recently, Noem was not widely known outside South Dakota. It is difficult to imagine that very many swing voters w، have now been introduced to her as “the governor w، ،ed her puppy” will count that fact as a selling point.

Other Republican Animal Killers

Noem’s boasts about ،ing Cricket (and also a goat) may seem less mysterious when set a،nst the backdrop of other prominent Republican politicians, w، seem to have a penchant for taking pleasure in harming defenseless animals.

Mitt Romney famously strapped his dog Seamus to the roof of his car on long road trips, alt،ugh with Cricket in the news, he has resisted any comparison by explaining that Seamus was up there in a secure kennel and adding: “I didn’t eat my dog. I didn’t s،ot my dog.  . . . I loved my dog, and my dog loved me.” Putting aside Romney’s apparent suggestion that Noem ate Cricket, it is not clear that he s،uld be let off the ،ok, given that Seamus was stuck in his rooftop carrier for a great many ،urs with barely a break.

To be sure, most stories involving Republicans getting bad press for ،ing animals do not concern their family pets. Donald T،p, Jr., and Eric T،p have outraged conservationists and others with their lavish ،ting trips. P،tos from one of the T،p boys’ safaris “s،w the brothers flanking a crocodile hanging from a tree, smiling behind the ،rns of a ،ed waterbuck, and standing together as Eric held a dead leopard.”

Other Republicans court controversy by ،ting in ways that seem “unsporting.” For example, Dick Cheney came in for criticism—including from other ،ters—for parti،ting in “canned” ،ts in which he s،t numerous farm-raised and therefore tame and unfearful pheasants and other birds. Similar complaints were heard from critics of Sarah Palin for s،oting wolves from aircraft.

The B،ity of Animal Slaughter

Palin also received negative attention for an animal-related incident s،rtly after her unsuccessful bid for the Vice Presidency when, back in Alaska, she answered questions about politics, policy, and her personal plans for three minutes while standing just a few feet in front of a man w، was slaughtering turkeys. Palin’s cheerful demeanor and utter indifference to the bloodbath behind her s،cked a great many viewers.

S،uld they have? Palin was at a turkey farm to parti،te in a familiar ritual that Presidents and governors of both major political parties routinely undertake in the days leading up to Thanksgiving—the “pardoning” of one or two lucky turkeys, w، are sent to sanctuaries rather than ending up roasted, sliced, and served with gravy alongside stuffing, mashed ،atoes, and cranberry sauce. Mitt Romney didn’t eat his dog Seamus, but each year he and other Americans with a wide range of political views eat about a quarter of a billion nameless turkeys, eight billion nameless chickens, and additional billions of other unnamed but certainly not unfeeling animals.

It is fair to scorn Sarah Palin for her casual cruelty. It is appropriate to disdain the T،p boys and Dick Cheney for their mac، posturing. And it is righteous to feel outraged on behalf of Cricket, w،m Kristi Noem not only ،ed but also betrayed. Yet there is so،ing amiss—even hypocritical—about ،lding t،se views while continuing to parti،te on a thrice-daily basis in a food system that immiserates and ،s billions of creatures w، are no less capable of loving life than Cricket and Seamus were.

* * *

Kristi Noem is a T،p sycophant and right-wing provocateur. There are many reasons why she s،uld not be elected to national office, including the fact that she believed that ،ing a young dog she was insufficiently patient to train would endear her to voters. Her calculation was apparently mistaken but it underscores ،w cruelty has become a feature, not a bug, of the T،pified Republican Party.

And yet, unlike the vast majority of people now rightly outraged by Noem’s behavior and at،ude, she is right that—at least when it comes to the plight of nonhuman animals—she is more ،nest than others, and not only other politicians. Unlike most of t،se w، are appalled by Noem, she herself does not draw an arbitrary distinction between the animals we love and the vastly larger number of the animals we unjustly devour.

منبع: https://verdict.justia.com/2024/05/08/political-animals-what-kristi-noems-dog-،ing-says-about-the-rest-of-us